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Burnham appointed as shadow health secretary

Exclusive Andy Burnham has been appointed the Shadow Secretary of State for Health in a resuffle of the shadow cabinet.

The appointment comes despite a member of the Labour health team saying his appointment was ‘very unlikely’ and that there would be ‘real problems with his return.’

Mr Burnham was secretary of state for health up to the last election and replaces John Healey, who resigned this week.

Mr Healey was widely thought to have jumped before he was pushed in writing a resignation letter to Labour leader Ed Miliband before the shadow cabinet reshuffle in which he was tipped to face the sack.

Mr Healey, who came second in a ballot of Labour MPs for the shadow cabinet under rules that have subsequently being scrapped to allow Mr Miliband to appoint his own team, told the leader that he wanted spend more time with his family.

In a letter to the party leader, Mr Healey said it was a ‘big decision’ to leave the cabinet but it was time to put his family first.

He wrote: ‘We – and you personally – have had a strong and successful conference.’

‘I know you will now be turning your mind to strategy for the months ahead, including the make-up of your shadow ministerial teams, so I wanted to let you know of my wish to step down from the shadow cabinet.’

Mr Miliband replied: ‘I know this has been a difficult and very personal decision for you, but in both government and opposition you have served tirelessly and with distinction.’